This report presents an evaluation of social return, based on the 2021/2022 cohort engaged in the Mencap’s Supported Internship (SI) programme. It builds on the previous work undertaken to produce a forecast of the impact of the 2020/21 cohort.
The evaluation was constructed with information from a number of processes:
- A Literature Review to identify material outcomes and stakeholders
- Engagement with a Sounding Board including ex-learners from the Mencap Supported Internship programme to guide the analysis
- Interviews with learners, parents, referral agencies and Local Authorities and employers
- Undertaking deep dives at two of Mencap’s Supported Internship projects
- Development of an overall Theory of Change and a chain of outcomes for learners
- Data collection from Mencap’s review documentation used with learners
- Determining valuations based on undertaking the Values Game with learners
- Creation of a value map to present the findings
- Calculation of the Social Return on Investment ratio.
This evaluation follows the previous forecast SROI process undertaken with the 2020/21 learner cohort, which yielded an SROI ratio of 2.35, with a range between £2 and £3. It was concluded that this ratio was considered to likely to be an underestimate. This was a result of the limitations imposed on delivery of the programme, the research and the stakeholder engagement due to Covid 19 measures. Secondly, there were limitations on the evidence which could be derived from Mencap’s records to support some of the outcomes. Mencap undertook a revision of their paperwork on the basis of recommendations made.
Hence the second phase of the research reported here, concentrated on the 2021/22 cohort where the programme retuned to more normalised programme of delivery and as a result of which the research could also include more direct connection with stakeholders. The issues of data gaps could be largely resolved, therefore a more realistic and accurate assessment of social value could be determined. The calculations yielded an SROI ratio of 3.22, with a range between £1.61 and £4.83 returned for every £1 invested in the Supported Internship programme.
Mencap’s Supported Internship programme overview
The Supported Internship (SI) programme is one of Mencap’s ‘Three Ships’ skills and employability programme components, alongside Traineeships and Apprenticeships. The overall aim is to help young people (16-24) with learning disabilities and young people with autism to get paid employment and to thrive in a job.
Each year, Mencap’s employment support programmes help over 1,000 people with a learning disability to develop employability skills, undertake personal skills development and then gain paid employment. Mencap is the largest multi-site provider of Supported Internships and the 6th largest overall in the UK. In 2020/2021 Mencap delivered supported Internships across 11 project locations in England, with 10 locations in the following year.
In 2021/2022 the programme was further extended through the introduction of a Study Programme, in recognition of the fact that many people who had been referred to the SI programme were too far away from the labour market to benefit from a programme lasting only one year. Learners on the study programme therefore had the opportunity to engage in a programme of classroom learning for up to two years, before moving onto the SI programme to help develop their employability skills and competencies.
Mencap’s SI delivery includes classroom group training, one-to-one support from tutors and job coaches, and individualised work placements with employers. The programme period is in academic years, recruiting learners each autumn. The programme gives approx. 600 hours input for each learner, normally 300 hours of classroom delivery and 300 hours on work placement (s).
Generally speaking, employer placements start towards the end of the year or early in the New Year. Mencap has access to a wide range of employers from many sectors, with a broad range of employee sizes. There were a number of national and local hospitality providers, but there were also care homes, garden centres, supermarkets, charity shops and NHS employers.
In 2021/2022, 161 young people with learning disabilities and autism were recruited to the programme and 144 completed the programme.
During the Evaluation Phase of the research in 2022, Mencap’s employment programmes were inspected by OFSTED, with an overall grade of Requires Improvement. The SI programme is funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Local Authority contributions to support the implementation of Education Health and Care Plans. These Plans set out what the Local Authorities’ expectations are for each learner on the SI programme, and the outcomes they expect the programme to deliver.